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  • Writer's pictureLuigi Sapiano

Bernard's Failed Rescue

With general election rumours flying about in the press, perhaps it’s time to start looking more closely at the electability of our political parties. If the word on the street is true, this will be the second early election a Labour government has called in just four years. That’s two elections in a time span shorter than an ordinary term of office.

Having resigned under a cloud in 2019, Joseph Muscat handed the mantle to his successor, Robert Abela, who is yet to contest a general election or face off in a campaign against his political adversary Bernard Grech. Despite this, polls conducted from time to time give us a pretty clear picture of where the electorate stands. Indeed, the latest MaltaToday Survey brings more bad news for the PN under leader Bernard Grech and consolidates Abela’s Labour as a practically unassailable political force. Manuel Delia argued in an opinion piece for the Times of Malta, published on Sunday that “The distinctive success of the Labour Party’s transition to power in 2013 is its lasting power.” By all accounts, labour should not enjoy the support it does today. It is appalling yet unsurprising that scandal after scandal, the Opposition consistently fails to make inroads with voters. There was so much to capitalise upon, countless opportunities to present an honest alternative government. The Nationalist Party, so far, squandered them all.

Oppositions don’t win elections — governments lose them. Or so dictates the political maxim. I find the reverse to be true here in Malta. The opposition has been positively losing elections since 2017. The Nationalist Party made the grave mistake of assuming that just because things got so bad, because a journalist was assassinated, because ministers were outed as being corrupt and because a good number of us took the streets to protest it, then automatically they would win. That wasn’t true for Grech’s predecessors and it sure as hell hasn’t magically become the case now.

To flip another piece of political wisdom on its head; Napoleon Bonaparte says, ”Ability is nothing without opportunity”. For the PN, an opportunity is nothing without ability. As keen as Bernard Grech is to portray the PN’s ability to maintain a united front, he has failed to do so, ironically by not following through on his promise to take “tough decisions”.

In his mind, Bernard Grech thinks he took the tough decision this week. He hauled Jason Azzopardi and Adrian Delia into Dar Centrali and made them sign a peace treaty. Azzopardi and Delia will insist it was signed willingly, except it’s plain to see that arms were twisted.

What Grech fails to realise is that in the wake of his blind pursuit for the illusion of unity, he’s carved up a divergence quite unlike anything the Nationalist Party has ever seen. Even worse, he’s muddied the waters and distorted the facts.

“Azzopardi declared that Delia was not in any businessman's pocket and he fought against corruption without hindrance or compromise.” reads the statement.

So, then he didn’t send those messages to Yorgen Fenech, right? Wrong. There’s proof, black on white. The Times of Malta saw those messages and credibly reports that a total of 19 messages were exchanged between January 2019 and May 2019.

Those who wanted Adrian Delia out of the party because of messages exchanged with Yorgen Fenech are now rightly asking why Jason Azzopardi has backtracked on those claims. Supporters of Delia are still asking the same questions Delia put forward in his fiery rebuttal on social media. What is the extent of Jason Azzopardi’s involvement with the Fenech family? And why was he caught not paying his taxes?

Of course, Bernard Grech won’t cast the first stone, because he too was caught filing late tax returns.

So instead of kicking the both of them out, for bringing the party into disrepute and for a history of misconduct that makes their position untenable, he decides Jason Azzopardi and Adrian Delia need to be muzzled because every time they speak skeletons come crashing out of the closet.

Some tough decision that was huh, Bernard?

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